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Feature - People behind EGI: Tiziana Ferrari

Profile - People behind the European Grid Initiative: Tiziana Ferrari

Image courtesy EGI

The European Grid Infrastructure’s role is to support research and collaboration across the continent by providing seamless, instant access to computing resources. But who has the job of making sure things actually work? Meet EGI’s Chief Operations Officer, Tiziana Ferrari.

She spoke recently with iSGTW to tell us what is rewarding about her job, what is challenging and why it is important.


iSGTW: Describe what you do for EGI.

Ferrari: I am responsible for coordinating the operations of the infrastructure across Europe. The user doesn’t care whether a resources is in Spain or in France, they just need it to work — that is my job. In EGI though, every country is responsible for its own operations.

But EGI needs to coordinate this and ensure that everyone is using the same protocols. That is my role. I need to make sure the production and accounting infrastructure is working as it should.

iSGTW: Why is this needed?

Ferrari: By design, the grid relies on common operational procedures and policies. If a new grid site wants to enter, we have procedures they can follow and then they can join. So we need to make sure every NGI (National Grid Initiative) ascribes to a common set of procedures and standards to offer services. This allows the resources to be seamless. I need also to make sure that central services are working as well. These include, for example, the central accounting infrastructure, monitoring services, statistics on availability, support help desks, and statistics needed by the security team.

iSGTW: How many people do you work with? What does an average day look like?

Ferrari: I need to liaise with about 40 operations managers — one for each NGI in the infrastructure — and I work closely with the people who handle global services, about ten. Of course I’m also very involved in working with the other SA1 (or operations) task leaders and all of the activity leaders of the EGI project.

I usually spend a lot of time reviewing and checking documentation — making sure it is up do date. Most of my communication takes place via e-mail.

The Beurs van Berlage, site of the upcoming EGI Technical Forum in Amsterdam. Image courtesy EGI

iSGTW: What is most challenging about your job? Most rewarding?

I think the biggest challenge of this job is to understand the needs of every NGI — being in touch with everyone, particularly as I communicate with 40 people. The success of operations for EGI depends on the success of operations in every single country. A failure for a single NGI is a failure for the entire project.

The rewarding side of this job, technically speaking, is that the scope is much bigger. I get to speak with so many people and to expand the focus not just on the needs of one country, but the whole continent of Europe.

And personally speaking, it is nice to work with so many more people and to increase the number of relationships and friendships I have.

iSGTW: What did you do before this job? Why did you want the job?

I was previously responsible for managing operations for the Italian Grid Infrastructure for three years — very close to what I do today, but on a smaller scale. This was very exciting work for me, a great pleasure. Through this, I built my technical knowledge.

I became increasingly involved with European Grid Initiative Design Study (EGI_DS), as the grid community in Europe began to work towards sustainability. I was excited to help form these ideas. I appreciate that we are at the beginning of a new era of grids in Europe — when grids will become permanent and sustainable. I thought that my experience could assist their goal.

iSGTW: Why do you enjoy about living in Amsterdam?

Actually, I'm still living in Italy. I’m looking forward to making it possible for my children to see more internationally though.This month we move to Amsterdam. We’ll live in the suburbs — I'm more of a country person. We'll be in a beautiful natural area and close to the sea.

—Danielle Venton, for iSGTW

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